Currently, the UvA course evaluation comes in the shape of the UvA Q method, focussing on 5 quality criteria. However, to generate useable data it is important that a large portion of the students fills out these forms and that they do so candidly.
020 believes that just sending an email with the form will lead to many students neglecting to fill it in, or that simply sending the form may lead to a lower quality of responses due to students just trying to get the evaluation form over with. Therefore, we think that the UvA is missing out on valuable information regarding the quality of courses, and which areas can be improved upon.
The University encounters another risk in the form of who fills out the form and who does not. When there is no incentive for everybody to fill out the form, it becomes likely that only those with complaints about the course will do so. As such, the teachers might miss out on the things they are doing right and unintentionally change things that were good, to begin with.
The solution 020 proposes is twofold. First, it is important to smoothen out the evaluation process and encourage students to fill out the forms as honestly and comprehensively as they can. Second, especially during the pandemic, the University needs to keep a finger on the pulse during the course to maintain its quality of education.
Often the most valuable educating moments are peer-to-peer discussions. Hence, 020 proposes to allocate time during tutorials at the end of each period to evaluate and discuss the course quality in-class. By letting the students discuss the quality of the lectures and teachers with each other, they can help each other remember different aspects of the course while simultaneously motivating each other through discussing shared experiences. Some studies, such as Psychology, already successfully use such an evaluation process. Consequently, the UvA only has to copy those structures and implement them across the board.
Of course, University and the teachers still need to process the data to start analysing and comparing. As such, the students should still fill out the forms at the end of the discussion. Only now, the data quality will be higher because students have actively engaged with thinking and formulating their ideas and evaluations.
020 proposes another way of evaluating courses specifically designed to solve current challenges related to the pandemic. Normally, students fill out the evaluations forms at the end of the course. However, during the pandemic the University and its staff are constantly learning how to approach an ever-changing situation. As such, it is valuable to evaluate the course already half-way through so changes can still be made. This is both beneficial for the students and the teachers. The students benefit since their opinions can have a tangible effect on a course. The teachers benefit because it provides them with some clarity as to what is going right and wrong during these times.
Of course, 020 recognizes that it is not feasible for the UvA to change complete course structures half-way through. As such, we propose to have the half-way evaluations focus mainly on teaching methods. Meaning they focus on things such as slides, question opportunities, and the structure of the lesson. In doing so, these evaluations will help the teachers to navigate the new realm of online teaching and provide a structure for students to explain what is going well and what is not.